When you think of self-empowerment, you probably reflect on those self-help videos intertwined into social media or podcasts that guarantee their words and experiences can undoubtedly change your life. However, self-empowerment in interviews reigns in a slightly different arena. It’s been said time and time again, protruding confidence is what will win an interviewer over every time. It’s rumored that even if your answers aren’t the best or you’re not the most qualified candidate, you can charm your way into a new position by just overflowing with confidence.
While confidence is important, it won’t win you respect from a business owner. The challenge begins before you even apply for that job you so desperately need.
First, you must self-evaluate and be honest about what you can realistically offer a company. Think on an in-depth level. What are your actual strengths/innate talents/training that set you a part from others in the same profession? Once you can answer that question, expand on it. Research methods to sharpen and amplify your talent through seminars, webinars and non-traditional courses to assist in building confidence in your field.
Then, put your talent into action. Take part in an activity that expands your mind, while focusing on your talent each day. In short, make sure that you are exercising your training throughout the things you do in life – not just regulating it to a professional setting. If your talent is being a communicator and you’re seeking out that type of career, be active in panels, mentoring and community boards. Volunteer to be a voice for the underprivileged through Urban League or another non-profit that helps dismantle negative socioeconomic factors. When passion meets talent, the outcome is unstoppable.
Only when these things are done will you be able to enter a room with five, stern interview panelists, sit down and take charge of the interview. Sure, you’ll be nervous at the start, but once that first question is asked you’ll feel empowered that you truly are the best candidate because you’re living what you’re speaking. There will be no greater victory.
Don’t let one word define your interview
In many interviews, HR representatives are simply trying to get a feel for your personality in a very short period of time. People often go about this in different ways. I’ve been to PR interviews at universities where an initial interview took place in an office and then I was invited out to lunch with two more individuals on staff. This was done to ultimately measure how I carried myself outside of the office atmosphere (I’ll expand on interview locations in another tip at a later date). Either way, assume you’re being studied at all times.
Specifically, this tip pertains to the “brain freeze” moment when there’s a particular word that you just know will make or break your acceptance to this company (this is a myth), but you lose your thought. You can attribute this to nervousness, anxiousness or excitability. Despite the cause, it happens. Let’s be honest. Even the most prepared, outgoing person gets nervous at some point in interviews (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). It’s simply how you choose to manage the nervousness that will make or break your first impression with the leaders of the company.
So, should you pause and mumble until the one word that you’d like to use comes back to you? This is the LAST thing that you want to do. Despite the interviewer prompting you to “take your time” or saying “let me know if I need to read the question over to you,” once you leave the room, the interview panel will see this in a negative light.
Don’t let one word define your interview. I’ve witnessed interviewees actually pause and mumble, “Goodness, and I just looked up a good word to use here.” I can assure you, this does more damage. My advice: MOVE ON. Think of an alternate thought and don’t let your interviewers know that you have missed a beat. Prepare…. Prepare… Prepare.
Work on Improvisation
On a general scale, it’s not probable that you’ll be asked to participate in a “group interview,” but on the off-chance it does, preparation is key. Improvisation is a great tool in any type of interview, but let us throw a scenario at you.
You’re invited to a group interview at a predominately female public relations company in Atlanta, GA. The company is fairly new and could be considered a start-up, so there are unconventional rules at play here. Hence, the unconventional group interviews that you’ve been invited to. Keep in mind, you had no idea that you would be taking part in a non-standard interview so you did not have the opportunity to do extra preparation.
Here’s where improvisation comes into play. Sitting around a round table in a small, but festive room with five other female candidates, you see two White females enter the glass doors. The two act more as moderators than interviewers. After introductions around the table, the interviewers ask symbolic questions such as: “If you could be an animal, what type would you be and why?” (OR) “Who is your favorite author and why?”
The order in which you answer the questions is randomly designated by the interviewer and changes each time a question is asked. When you arrive at the author question, you are asked to go last and you ultimately hear the person ahead of you say: “Maya Angelou”. Your heart sinks. Maya Angelou truly is your favorite writer and the link between your first book and your childhood – studying her art as inspiration to everything you’re currently pursuing. However, if you give the same answer as the previous person, you’ll look like the copycat, not the originator.
This is where improvisation comes in. Be proactive. Always have at least two examples for each question that could possibly be asked. I would recommend having 10 different concrete examples to support any point that you’re trying to make about yourself. If you state that you are adaptable or a leader, there must be examples to back this up. If your first response is “taken” or the interview goes in a different direction, improvise by utilizing the other examples you already have in the chamber. Otherwise, you may find yourself stumbling, pausing and regurgitating the same information repeatedly. -> No bueno for an interview.
Don’t sell yourself short
Recently, I was on an interview panel where the interviewee was asked the standard questions: “Why would you like this job? Why should WE invest in you?”
A great answer would be different variations of this: “When you invest in something, you believe in its ability to have an impact on the world. For this reason, I’ve invested _____ (input the number of years you’ve been in your career) years, honing my craft in _____ (communications, business, writing, etc.), using closed doors as a learning experience to seek out new training and education and have the opportunity to influence the ______ industry in a positive way -- as this company is currently doing. (Give short example of how you exceeded expectations of a certain task because of your dedication) You should invest in me because I’m dedicated to learning, growing and adapting to be an asset to your company.” NOTE: The blank spaces should be filled with information specific to the type of job you want to acquire.
A bad answer would be: “I don’t know if I am the best candidate, but I work hard.” (OR) “I’m sure there are a lot of other talented candidates for this position, but I believe I am the one for you.”
Yes, I’ve heard both of these responses on interview panels and no they never go over well. Panelists understand the humble angle that you’re trying to take here, but you have one job and one job only when you go into an interview: SELL YOURSELF, NOT THE OTHER CANDIDATES.
Also, don’t take the short route with questions like this. This is the central reason that they should hire you and you NEED to make that reason as clear as possible. You can take a shorter stance on questions like “Give three adjectives that describe you”. Here, you would just give three words. There will be other opportunities for examples showcasing the characteristics you’ve mentioned.
If you’re searching for a viable way to make money during the holiday season, mega-retailer Target may statistically be your best choice. The company will reportedly hire 100,000 employees for the holiday season beginning in October to fill various roles including cashiers, as well as, Softline and Hardline sales-floor associates. The increase is almost double that of the previous year.
Apply to join the Target team here.
Hiring Event at the Birmingham Career Center
First Choice Personnel Tuesday, March 21 from 8:30 to 11:30 am
The impact the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Talent Recruitment Project (TRP) Engineering and Technology workshop has on participating students is invaluable. Read about one Alabama A&M University student’s experience:
“My name is Kyle Littles. I am a graduate of Alabama A&M University. I graduated in the spring of 2016. My degree is in Logistics and supply chain management. I have been employed with Honda Manufacturing of Alabama for six months now. My attendance to the BBA talent recruitment event played a big part in helping me land my Job with Honda. The event in its entirety is great, but I especially enjoyed personally going around and interacting with the companies during the meet and greet events throughout the day. I feel I was able to clearly see what each company was looking for and get a sense of what talents I could offer to that company. Allowing students, the opportunity to have that interaction helps them feel as if the sky is truly the limit when it comes to the careers they choose to take, and helps build confidence to put ourselves out there to obtain the career goals we desire.” – Kyle Littles, Honda employee
The Birmingham Business Alliance Talent Recruitment Project (TRP) will host its Engineering and Technology workshop this year at 8:30 a.m., Friday, April 21, at Barber Motorsports Park for companies interested in engaging with leading tech talent from various Alabama universities.
Local companies can still register to participate in the event and gain the opportunity to mingle with top STEM students like Kyle from across the region. The employer registration fee of $25 includes:
Publix Super Markets celebrated its first day of processing at its new 638,000-square-foot distribution center in McCalla this week with an opening celebration and media tour. The facility will consist of 600,000 square feet of warehouse space and 38,000 square feet will be dedicated to cafeteria space, where workers will receive a free meal each day. The expansion is expected to create 300 new jobs by the end of 2017.
Publix joins several growing companies that call the Jefferson Metropolitan Industrial Park home. Beginning this week, products will be delivered to more than 80 Publix stores in Alabama and Tennessee from the facility.
County officials attended the grand opening ceremony to help celebrate the new addition to the Jefferson County business sector. Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens reflected on the importance of the Publix expansion for the county.
“The business model that Publix has worked and prospered under is one to be admired by companies in our region and throughout the country,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens. “We’re excited for the beginning of a long, mutually prosperous relationship with Publix.”
Publix Super Markets worked closely with the Alabama Department of Commerce, Jefferson County officials and the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) to make the project come to life. Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington expressed his thoughts on how the new distribution center will influence business growth.
“Everything we do as an organization reflects upon the team, on the tremendous support of our partners,” said Rick Davis, senior vice president of economic development for the BBA. “None of this happens without each of us playing an important role. Patrick Murphy, with Alabama Power, Mike Swinson with Alagasco, Ted vonCannon with JCEIDA, we’re all contributors to the end result, which is bringing an elite-level corporate citizen like Publix to Jefferson County and the region.”
The company currently holds 58 stores in Alabama, with locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“We’ve always admired how Publix treats its customers and employees,” said Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington. “By bringing 300 new jobs here, this expansion helps Jefferson County continue to make a viable economic impact on the local community and our great state.”
Birmingham Career Center recruiting for two Librarian II positions in the Birmingham area. Requires master's degree in library science (MLS, MLIS) from an ALA accredited institution. A minimum of two years' experience in a professional library position working in a supervisory function is required. Background check required. For a full description of job duties and benefits go to: www.joblink.alabama.gov.